Drug Czar-speak

January 26, 2011
By

From an interview with the Texas Tribune

TT: You said in El Paso recently that decriminalization, or legalization of some illegal drugs is not an option, that is off the table. Why?

Kerlikowske: Well, one the administration’s stance is opposing legalization. When the president was a candidate, he opposed legalization. We don’t see any evidence that legalizing drugs and making them more widely available would be a help to anyone in this country.

Well gee, if you can’t see it, it just must not exist.

The second part is that, just from a common-sense standpoint, our No. 1 growing drug problem in the country, including fatalities, is prescription drugs. Well, prescription drugs are highly regulated, highly taxed, highly controlled, and yet we are completely incapable of keeping them out of the hands of kids, out of the hands of people abusing drugs and the evidence is very clear when it comes to fatalities and when it comes to emergency department visits.

No, that’s not common-sense. Making those prescription drugs illegal wouldn’t solve the problem of people abusing those drugs either. The issue isn’t whether legalization will end the drug problem. It won’t. We never said it would (although it’ll help in many ways). What it will do is end the drug war problem.

TT: A lot of people here in Texas say the United States is responsible for the bloodshed in Mexico. Can you be a little bit more specific on why legalization would not quell the violence in Mexico?

Kerlikowske: I think the RAND Corporation study not only says that legalizing drugs would not reduce the violence in Mexico but the chaos could actually increase the violence in Mexico.

RAND has put out some pretty ridiculous things regarding the drug war, but I don’t believe that even they came close to such an outrageous statement.

Just to show how ridiculous that statement it, let’s turn to Mark Kleiman. Kleiman and I disagree on an awful lot regarding drug policy, and quite strongly.

But in this recent post about the Border Patrol agent who was fired for saying that legalization would end the violence in Mexico, Mark clearly and correctly states:

If selling cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine were made legal, there would be no illegal business in smuggling them into the United States from Mexico. If that illegal business were to disappear, the level of violence in Mexico would fall. So much is elementary and not subject to dispute by any rational person.

Exactly. But then, the position of drug czar is not really a rational one.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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